NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR OCTOBER 6, 2012

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GROWING UP

BY GLADYS JEURINK

 

          Every summer I try to grow a vine I have not had before. Some like Nebraska but others do not! This summer Spanish Flag (Minalobata sp.) put on quite a show with its 3 colored blooms of orange, yellow, and white on a 6 foot oblique. Another vine climbed to the top of its support but never did bloom.  They were supposed to look like candy corn.

          The Moonflower (Ipomea alba) is slow to start but when it heats up travels to 10 to 15 feet.  Several years ago it climbed to the top of a Crab

Apple tree and then opened up into 6 inch wide blooms that smell good enough to attract moths or people. Do not plant until the air is consistently above 70 degree F. The seeds are hard so I soak them overnight before planting about one inch deep.  Not every seed grows so I put 2 to 3 where I want a plant.  If you are patient about sundown you can watch those big white blooms slowly pop open.

          I have had Porcelain Vine for years that grows leaves vigorously but quite often never gets the berries before it frosts. Not true this year with our early spring! I have a good crop of Porcelain turquoise, blue, deep purple, and lavender berries that are shiny and hard.  Sometimes several colors are in the same cluster. It is over the top of a 7 foot trellis and down along the top rail of a 6 feet high chain link fence.  My books say it will go to 20 feet with the proper support. 

          In an old tub there is a Hyacinth Bean Vine (Dalichos lablab) with dark purple pea like flowers and now reddish pods. It grew up and now grows along the top of a 6 foot chain link fence. I have tried to keep the pods along their branches for winter bouquets but they lose their color. It likes full sun and those big purple tinted leaves need a good amount of water. It is not hardy in Nebraska but I will have many seeds!

          Off in one corner of the patio there is a seven foot steel pole mounted in cement that is being squeezed by a Japanese Wisteria.  It was 5 years old before it bloomed.  First it climbed the pole and flopped its branches so we put another pole across a walk in cement with a connecting pole and it immediately took over. The Wisteria does bloom some every year with long purple chains. My books say it can strangle a small tree so after so a few years I cut it to the ground but it came up with a thick growth and now across the top a pair of Cardinals nested this year. It has grown so much I must cut it down again and it will be 2 years before it blooms. Blooms are about 7 to 12 inches long with pea like flowers and pods. There are small plants coming up in the spaces in the patio.

          For at least 20 years I have had several perennial Sweet Pea vines on the chain link fence that is 6 feet high and runs almost under the big Cottonwood tree. There are clusters of pink and white Sweet Peas (Lathyrus sp) for a number of weeks. They do not seem to mind the shade. They drop seeds within a few feet but are easy to pull up. Much easier to grow than the annual ones but I have never found more than the two colors.  To get the seeds started I soak them in warm water for a day before I plant.

          A rather weird vine I had for a number of years until my greenhouse froze one winter is the climbing Onion (Bowiea valubilis). I have looked but have not seen any since that happened.  Starting from a bulb that does resemble an onion, this vine has a leafless stem that bends and twists and has to be guided upward. It likes potting soil mixed half and half with sand. At its base it produced a number of little onions.  Half of the bulb is above ground and the    wandering, leafless stem contains numerous short and bent stems. Not beautiful but funny! It grew mainly in fall and winter and rested in the summer. It is supposed to bloom but mine never did.

          Cup and Saucer or Cathedral Bells (Cobaea scandens) can grow 25 feet in one summer and comes as a big (one inch) flat seed that takes a while to get started so it blooms sooner if you start them in pots about 8 weeks before the last frost. They like full sun and good drainage and produce purple or white flowers about 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide sitting on a leafy base like a cup. They are not hardy in Nebraska but if you start them early you should have seeds for next yearís fence.

          If you want a purple fuzzy house vine that will creep over a table top, then find a Gynura aurantiaca, also called Purple passion or Java Velvet. The velvet is caused by thick purple hairs. Here in Nebraska they wind around for 3 feet. In their native country of Africa or Asia they grow 9 feet.  The blooms are orange that donít smell so hot, so I cut them off.  A friend has a table in front of an east window and helps it travel all over the top.

Copyright 2012